Rahul & Pandya Handed Fines of 20 Lakhs Each f…

The BCCI Ombudsman DK Jain has directed Indian all-rounder Hardik Pandya and batsman KL Rahul to pay a sum of Rs 1 lakh each, to widows of 10 constables in paramilitary forces who have lost their lives on duty and deposit Rs 10 lakh each in the fund created for promotion of Cricket Association of Blind (CAB) as fine for their misconduct on TV show, ‘Koffee with Karan’.

Former Supreme Court Justice Jain has also said that if both the players fail to do so within four weeks from the date of the receipt of the order, the BCCI can deduct the said amount from the match fees payable to the players.

The ombudsman noted that the players had already missed out on earning of about Rs 30 lakh as they had been sent back from the tour of Australia. But he also noted that cricketers in the country are role models and their act should be befitting the status they have acquired.

Jain also said that since both the players apologised and did not contest the action initiated against them, it is unnecessary to return a categorical finding as to whether the remarks made during the course of the chat show constitutes as an act of indiscipline or misconduct or violation of any of Rules and Regulations on part of players as contemplated under Rule 41 (1) © of the rules.

The decision concludes the matter involving Pandya and Rahul and the duo can look forward to successful completion of their IPL-12 campaign followed by preparation for 2019 World Cup.

‘Salt Bae’ Inspired SRH Players Turn Chefs Ahe…

When the heat on the field is as high as it is in the Indian Premier League, players need to find a way to unwind between games when the dust has settled.

The Sunrisers Hyderabad players, however, traded the on-field heat for heat in the kitchen, as the squad seemed to be involved in a cook-off of sorts ahead of their match against Kolkata Knight Riders in Hyderabad on Sunday.

One team of chefs was led by Bhuvneshwar Kumar, and the other was led by Vijay Shankar, with the SRH players putting their cooking skills to test.

While Rashid Khan was busier clicking selfies than he was cooking, Jonny Bairstow, David Warner and Kane Williamson did their best impersonation of celebrity chef “Salt bae”.

It looked like the perfect way for the squad to unwind, ahead of what is a crucial phase of the tournament for them. The Sunrisers currently sit at the fifth position, and are still in with a shout of making the playoffs.

They face KKR at home before being on the road for their next two matches against Chennai Super Kings and Rajasthan Royals. Points against KKR and CSK would do their chances of qualifying for the playoffs a world of good, as KKR is on the same number of points (behind on net run rate) and Chennai is above them in the table.

ICC World Cup 2019 | Hales Goes on Indefinite …

England batsman Alex Hales has decided to take an indefinite break from the game due to ‘personal reasons’.

Hales, who did not feature in his County side Nottinghamshire’s 50-over match against Lancashire on Friday, has been included in England’s preliminary 15-man World Cup squad.

The 30-year-old is expected to join the England squad for their World Cup preparations at the end of April. The England Cricket Board are yet to make a comment on his absence.

On their website, Nottinghamshire stated: “Alex Hales has made himself unavailable for selection for personal reasons and no timetable has been set for his return to action.”

No other explanation for Hales’ omission from the County has been offered.

The 30-year-old has played in 70 ODIs for England and has scored six hundreds.

He scored 147 at Trent Bridge against Australia last year, as he took England to a record-breaking ODI total of 481/6.

England’s World Cup campaign is set to begin on 30 May when they take on South Africa.

However, England kick start preparations for the World Cup against Ireland in a one-off ODI, before playing Pakistan in one T20I and five ODIs.

Alongside his selection for the World Cup, Hales has been named in England’s squads for those matches.

Gayle’s Advice About Bats Helped Change My Gam…

Andre Russell has enhanced his (already big) reputation of being fast scoring batsman in white ball cricket with his current stint in the IPL with KKR.

Russell, who has scored 377 runs at 75.40 at a strike-rate of 220.46, almost took KKR home against RCB at the Eden Gardens but was run-out in the final over.

Currently, Russell has smashed 39 sixes in the IPL and second to him is Chris Gayle with 26. The right-handed batsman credits Gayle for helping him become the force he is today.

Gayle has influenced Russell’s career, and a piece of advice the senior player gave him during the ICC World T20 2016 helped Russell morph into the power-hitter he is today.

“Chris Gayle changed my life in terms of power hitting. I’ve learned a lot from him,” Russell said on BBC’s Doosra podcast.

“I used to use lighter bats, but when you make contact with a light bat, it doesn’t go anywhere. During the World Cup, he came to me and said, ‘Russ, you’re better than that. You can use bigger bats, you’re strong.’

"2016, when we won the (T20) World Cup in India, that year changed my life. That semi-final onwards, where I scored 48 (43) runs for West Indies. Now my bats are (bigger). There’s a lot of mechanics behind my bats, I play around with them a lot.”

Russell also said that he developed his game by using smart training methods which he had picked up from the National Football League players in the United States.

“I work out like NFL players. When I went to Dallas a few years ago, that kind of changed my life into seeing how professional athletes in different sports go about their game,” he said. “These guys train hard, high intensity. Even if they weren’t doing heavy weights, they were doing a lot of repetition. That’s what I use: I don’t need to get big and bulky. If I get bulky, I will bowl slow and my arm speed will get slow while batting. You need to smart about how you train.

"I train hard. I work hard in the gym, like a beast. A lot of power work. Because the stronger you are, the easier you’re going to hit certain balls.”

Russell, who’s been a star performer for KKR this season, however is more than grateful for the support they have shown following the one-year ban he was handed in 2017 for a doping-code violation.

“I owe all these performances to Kolkata,” he insisted. “When I got banned in 2017, I was depressed. I do not cry easily, but to see Venky Mysore (KKR CEO) take up the phone and say they were going to retain me through that time, water filled my eyes. They know me, that’s the thing about family. I owe these performances to them.”

IPL 2019 | Ferocious Steyn Returns to Add Bite…

One of the positives for Virat Kohli’s RCB in their win over KKR on Friday night at the Eden Gardens was the return of South African fast bowler Dale Steyn, who has replaced Nathan Coulter-Nile for the rest of the tournament.

Steyn returned with figures of 4-0-40-2, and picked up the important wickets of Chris Lynn and Shubman Gill in his spell. Considering how KKR came within two shots of winning the match despite RCB posting a mammoth target of 214, the importance of Lynn’s wicket at the top of the order gets heightened.

Trying to drive the ball through the line, Lynn ended up looping it up to the mid-off region, and RCB captain Virat Kohli made no mistake in lapping it up. Steyn however, could have had his man off the very first ball he bowled when an edge to first slip was put down by Marcus Stoinis.

The wicket of Shubman Gill was similar, as the young Indian batsman seemed to rush his shot, hurried by Steyn’s pace with Kohli taking a good catch running backwards

Back in RCB colours after nine years, Steyn’s pace and swing troubled the KKR batsmen on occasion. On what was a good batting track, he did get hit for boundaries as well, but his attacking approach means he will always be a wicket-taking threat on any pitch.

RCB has been missing that bite in their bowling, and Steyn’s return might just galvanize the team to go on a winning run. Mathematically, they still stand a chance to make it to the playoffs of the IPL, and although it will be tough, it’s not impossible.

Steyn hoped for the same in a chat with fellow team-mate Moeen Ali after the match. “Overall, I’m happy to be back playing for Bangalore and hope to get some momentum for the rest of the tournament with our second win,” he said.

“It would’ve been nicer if it was an easy game tonight! Was a bit of a tight one, but it’s always nice to be back playing against some of the best in the world.”

Steyn is one of the best in the world at his craft as well. Time will tell just how far his influence will go in the remaining matches for RCB.

Bancroft Smashes Second Consecutive Ton for Du…

Australian Cameron Bancroft is making all the right noises on his ODI return after scoring a second consecutive century for Durham in their six-wicket win against Leicestershire.

Bancroft smashed an unbeaten 118 from 117 balls at No.4 with 12 boundaries and two sixes to help Durham win with more than four overs to spare. Durham were set a target of 234 by Leicestershire.

“Signing him, there was a lot of speculation,” teammate James Franklin said of Bancroft.

“But I think he’s certainly put that to rest with his two performances. He’s been a leader of this team coming out, two match-winning hundreds.

“That’s what you want from your captain, to lead from the front, and he’s certainly done that the first two games.”

Bancroft’s appointment as captain caused a lot of criticism for Durham, but chief executive Tim Bostock insisted Bancroft was “the best available option” and his performances so far have justified the faith.

The Australian now has 269 runs in his first two innings’ of English competition, the most by any batsman since 1990. He overtook Ravi Shastri who had 202 runs to his name.

Bancroft had been banned for nine months for his role in the ball-tampering scandal against South Africa in Cape Town in 2018, with teammates Steve Smith and David Warner receiving 12-month suspensions. All three have served their sentences and are back in action.

Bancroft returned to action in December in the BBL with the Perth Scorchers and then with Western Australia in the JLT Sheffield Shield.

Bancroft scored 298 runs at an average of 33.11, with two fifties in the BBL, before adding another 392 runs with an average of 56 in four Shield matches.

The 26-year-old has an average of 30.92 from eight Tests at the top of the order, with a best score of 82 not out.

IPL 2019 | Battles Within the Battle – Rajasth…

In Jaipur at the Sawai Mansingh Stadium on Saturday, former champions Rajasthan Royals will look to bring their A game in a bid to save their season against one of the powerhouses of the IPL – three time winners Mumbai Indians.

Led by Rohit Sharma, the visitors have more than their fair share of individual talent, not only in the playing lineup but also on the bench, while the Rajasthan Royals are yet to make their presence felt this season.

Ajinkya Rahane will be scratching his head as he hopes to crack the perfect combination, whereas India teammate Rohit will turn to his stalwarts in an effort to keep their momentum going.

Neither side is likely to have it easy and, as always the very complexion the contest could change on the basis of the outcomes of some important mini-battles.

Currently, the two sides are at opposite ends of the points table. Mumbai are second and hot on the heels of Chennai Super Kings, while Rajasthan have themselves a mountain to climb and are sitting just above Royal Challengers Bangalore.

Here we have a look at the key player battles:

Jos Buttler vs Lasith Malinga

The Englishman really started enjoying life in the IPL since he began opening the innings, and hasn’t looked back since. He’s been a pillar of strength for Rahane’s side and with 311 runs from eight games with three half-centuries to boast off, keeping Buttler quiet will be of utmost importance.

That job is likely to fall in the hands of Sri Lankan bowling ace Lasith Malinga. The tricky fast bowler has had his share of fitness problems, but with the World Cup coming up around the corner he has pulled up his socks and how. Eight wickets from five means he is one of Mumbai’s best bowlers yet again and make no mistake he is landing the ball in the right spots which in turn is getting him wickets.

Rohit Sharma vs Shreyas Gopal

The Mumbai Indians captain has not yet moved through the gears this season and is due one of his classic knocks. No half-century to his name in eight games, Rohit will be itching to get a big one and the demoralized Royals bowling attack might just provide the right fodder.

However, Rohit’s problems against leg-spin has not deserted him and Rahane and Shreyas Gopal would have made note of his dismissal against Amit Mishra. Gopal, who has a knack of picking up the big wickets like Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers, will be keen to add to his collection of the eight he has already managed so far.

Hardik Pandya vs Jofra Archer

Both have their agenda in this edition of the IPL. Hardik after an unwanted controversy is doing his bit to keep his focus firmly on cricket, while Archer is still fighting tooth and nail to break into the England World Cup squad.

Hardik, in his bid, has been fantastic as he has finished innings’ with great aplomb and brute force with the bat. With a strike rate of close to 200, Hardik has been the one leading the charge at the business end of the innings. Delhi, Bangalore and even the Royals were recently been subjected to his destructive ways and nothing hints at a change in plan.

On the other hand, Jofra Archer’s IPL story has not panned out the way he would have wanted it in a crucial year like this. He came to the tournament with some great form from the Big Bash League, but that has tapered out much to the dismay of the Royals. While he has bagged 10 wickets in eight games there’s hardly been much of an impact.

Whoever has more impact on Saturday is likely to turn the contest in his side’s favour.

Ashton Turner vs Jasprit Bumrah

Very recently the Australian showed the Indian cricket team the type of game that the Royals are currently in dire need of. Turner can quite literally use the long handle to good effect – just like he did in Mohali and singlehandedly won his side the game against India. Turner’s form from the ODIs though has not translated into anything positive in T20 cricket and a hat-trick of ducks sits heavily on his shoulders. The Royals need him to find form and fast so that they don’t fall a few runs short in the closing stages.

Turner however will have his task cut out against one of the IPL’s best death bowlers in Jasprit Bumrah. In nine games, Bumrah has 10 at an economy of less than 7 runs per over, which tells you the task Turner has on his hand. If the Australian can get the better of the Bumrah, the Royals are likely to find themselves in the drivers’ seat, if not; the Bumrah story is all too familiar for Indian fans.

IPL 2019 | A Look Back at The Last Five Delhi …

Locked at third and fourth positions respectively with an identical number of points, Delhi Capitals and Kings XI Punjab are only separated by net-run-rate currently. Delhi have not had the best form playing at home this season, and that is something that the visitors will hope to capitalize on when they make the trip down to Delhi.

However, things have not been so close between the teams in the last five encounters they have had in the IPL, with Delhi winning only once back in 2017. With the second place at stake, here we take a look at the last five times the teams from North India came face to face in the IPL.

1st April 2019, Kings XI Punjab Won by 14 Runs

In what was one of the worst batting collapses in IPL history, Kings XI Punjab won by 14 runs when they took on Delhi Capitals in Mohali earlier in the tournament this year. Having posted a fighting target of 167 to win on a track conducive to batting, the hosts received an early boost when they dismissed Prithvi Shaw off the first ball of the innings in Delhi’s chase.

Shreyas Iyer, Rishabh Pant and Shikhar Dhawan immediately set out the rebuilding mission and despite the eventual dismissals of Dhawan and Iyer, Delhi still looked on course to win the match with Rishabh Pant still at the crease.

But as soon as Pant fell with the score on 144, the remaining batting order fell like a pack of cards. Delhi only added eight more runs, but lost as many as six wickets, all out for 152. Sam Curran was the wrecker-in-chief and finished with figures of 2.2-0-11-4, deservedly being named man of the match.

23rd April 2018, Kings XI Punjab won by 4 runs

A match which went down till the wire, it was Afghanistan spinner Mujeeb Ur Rahman’s heroics where he defended 16 runs off the final over that handed Kings XI the win at the Feroz Shah Kotla stadium.

Liam Plunkett’s spell of 4-0-17-3 wrecked the KXIP middle order and caused them to only put up 143/8 in their 20 overs.

Tight bowling at the start of the second innings by Ankit Rajpoot meant that Delhi were 42/3 in the sixth over. Shreyas Iyer led a recovery mission and got Delhi within touching distance of a win. Sixteen were required off the last over with three wickets still in hand.

But Mujeeb had other plans. He gave away 12 runs in the final over but got the all-important wicket of Iyer, which meant that Delhi fell agonizingly short of the target by four runs.

April 8th 2018, Kings XI Punjab won by 6 wickets

Hell hath no fury like an on-song KL Rahul. The stylish Rahul hit the fastest IPL fifty in history (off just 14 balls) to make light work of Delhi’s first innings total of 166/7.

There was another fifty – Gautam Gambhir’s 55 off 42 balls that helped Delhi to the total in the first innings. Rishabh Pant’s quickfire 28 off 13 balls gave them the ideal end to their innings.

But opening the batting, KL Rahul was in an inspired mood as he hit four sixes and six fours in 14 balls to get Kings XI Punjab off to a dream start. Trent Boult and Mohammed Shami did not know what hit them at the other end of the pitch, as whatever Rahul touched turned to gold.

Even though he was dismissed for 51 by Boult in the fourth over, he made sure that there was a platform upon which the rest of the Kings XI batsmen just had to play some safe, sensible cricket to get over the line. They did just that with seven balls to spare, as Karun Nair hit a fifty of his own off 33 balls. The Mohali crowd went back home having watched something special that day.

April 30th 2017, Kings XI Punjab won by 10 wickets

Another match between the two sides where a record was set, this time it was an unwanted one for Delhi as they were all out for just 67 in the first innings in Mohali, which made it the worst first innings total in the history of the IPL at the time.

Fast bowler Sandeep Sharma’s pace and swing troubled the Delhi batsmen. He ended with figures of 4-0-20-4 dismissing both Sanju Samson and Sam Billings at the top of the order to give his side the early momentum. Delhi never recovered from this point, and that Corey Anderson was the top scorer in the innings with 18 runs said a lot about the dismal Delhi batting performance. Axar Patel and Varun Aaron picked up two wickets apiece, responsible for most of the rest of the damage.

The chase was a breeze for the home side in Chandigarh, as they reached the total without the loss of any wickets in just 7.5 overs. Martin Guptill remained unbeaten on 50 off 27 balls, and Amla on 16 off 20 balls to condemn Delhi to another embarrassing defeat at the hands of Kings XI Punjab.

April 15th 2017, Delhi Daredevils won by 51 runs

Delhi’s only win in their last five encounters with Kings XI Punjab came at the Feroz Shah Kotla stadium in April 2017. Up until that point, no side has chased down a total as high as 189 to win an IPL game at the stadium. And when the home side scored 188 batting first riding on Sam Billings’ 55 off 40 balls and Corey Anderson’s late 39 off 22 balls, Kings XI were going to be up against it in the second half of the match.

Unfortunately for the visitors, they were quickly reduced to 64/5 in the 11th over – Glenn Maxwell, Hashim Amla and Eoin Morgan all back in the pavilion. It was the spinners that did the damage for Delhi, as Shahbaz Nadeem and Amit Mishra did the damage. Mishra had Maxwell’s number for the fourth time in five innings and was a symbol of Delhi’s dominance in the match.

Despite a fighting 44 by Axar Patel, KXIP’s innings came to close when Corey Anderson got David Miller out for 24 off 28 balls. It was Delhi’s first home win of the season in that edition of the IPL.

IPL 2019 | KXIP to Continue Without Replacing …

The Kings XI Punjab side has had more than their fair share of injury troubles this season with the frontline spinners Mujeeb Ur Rahman and Varun Chakravarthy still to regain full fitness.

Along with them, Australian Moises Henriques has now also been added to the list after he injured himself during warm-ups ahead of the match against the Delhi Capitals. What’s more worrisome for KXIP is that7 Henriques won’t return to action any time soon and the side cannot even replace him as per the rules of the competition.

“Henriques injured himself after being named in the side a couple of days ago,” Kings XI coach Mike Hesson said in Delhi.

“His injury is going to rule him out for a period of time. So that’s unfortunate and you can’t have a replacement after seven games through injury. So there will be no replacement sought.”

Hesson however, is hopeful that Mujeeb will clear the late fitness tests and make his way into the playing eleven against Delhi on Saturday at the Feroz Shah Kotla.

“Mujeeb has made good progress, he is certainly not in as much pain as he was a couple of nights ago. So, he would like to train today and we will make a decision after that.

“Varun (fractured finger) is out for a long time as well with injury. We are hoping that everybody will be able to make contributions in the rest of the IPL.

“We have also got Murugan Aswhin who has come in and filled the void,” Hesson pointed out.

The KXIP side are currently fourth on the points table with five wins from nine games and will face Delhi in the capital on Saturday evening.

IPL 2019 | Batting Up the Order Will Cause Cap…

The big-hitting Andre Russell’s batting prowess has been a major talking point around the Kolkata Knight Riders’ campaign this season, and his blistering knock of 65 off 25 balls has only added to the clamour to bring him further up the order.

When KKR were tottering at 79/4 in the 12th over, Russell’s brutal assault took them to within touching distance of a win, unfortunately it wasn’t enough and the hosts registered a fourth consecutive defeat. Would the situation have been different had the West Indian walked in at anything above his batting number – 6 when the asking rate is well above 15 runs an over?

“We were chasing 214 runs and weren’t in the best state when I went out to bat,” Russell said in the post-match press conference at the Eden Gardens. “When Nitish (Rana) asked what I thought, I said ‘I bat one way – and that’s positive.’ (But) to go out there and chasing 14-15 per over, it’s not the best way you want to start as a batsman. I’m used to these situations, but why I say it’s a sweet and sour feeling is because we need to learn from this, as a team. We need to learn that we can get 214. And to lose by 10 runs, well, we were just two hits away.

"I believe that (I should bat higher up the order),” Russell said before putting his finger to his lips like he had blurted out something by mistake. “Honestly, you have to sometimes be flexible as a team. When you look at the make-up of our team, I don’t mind going to bat at No. 4.”

Russell’s powerful batting, which pundits feel has developed by leaps and bounds since the last IPL, has been at the heart of most things good for KKR.

The big man however believes that his coming up the order would force the fielding captain into decisions which he would otherwise not take and in turn open up other free-scoring avenues for the others.

“When I’m at the crease, Virat Kohli will bowl the best bowlers to get me out, and those best bowlers will therefore have less overs remaining in the back end,” Russell pointed out.

“So even if I score 60 off 25 balls and give the team the early pump, then the type of bowlers like Dale Steyn will have only one over to bowl at the death, or they may bowl out. So I think me going to bat early would definitely be good for KKR, but with our make-up as a team… yeah, that’s a good answer.”

Has Russell been feeling the pressure of having to take his team over the line one time too many? With a strike-rate well in excess of 200, Russell took KKR to the cusp, but believes it was the approach before him that caused them to slump to another defeat.

“You know when you lose cricket games like these, it’s a sweet and sour feeling. I just think that a four and six could’ve got us over the line. We lost the game in the middle overs. Even though we should’ve restricted RCB for less than 200, I think the ball was in our court and we tossed the ball to their side. That’s what happened tonight.

"If we batted faster in the middle period, we would definitely get the runs with even balls to spare. Well batted to Nitish, but this is something of concern.”

KKR sit at sixth on the points table, having lost five of their nine games, and have three away games out of their final five. The road to the top four does not look easy and Dinesh Karthik will hope the trip to Hyderabad will help turn a corner.